BreakingModern — With Halloween fast approaching here are some tips and tricks from my forays as a cosplayer (and terminology not everyone immediately knows) if you’re thinking about entering the fray.
A cosplayer begins as a novice, and, depending on how talented you are with your fingers, a sewing needle or machine and glue, you can rise to the rank of journeyman. From there your choices of anime, manga, video games or movies become more intricate, more difficult. You take another leap to become an artisan once those fingers are nimble enough. Years pass by, bloodied fingers are a thing of norm, and before you know it, the rank of master is labeled.
Ah, the master label. So coveted.
The length of your cosplay career doesn’t decide whether or not you become a master. Rather, the rank is bestowed because of the minute details and striking features of the costume you’ve made. Rank is also assigned by the number of masquerade shows you attend where costumes are judged (think Top Model or Miss America). At least, that’s my definition.
You are the character
There’s a harsh truth about cosplay, that character you love and physical limitations. Your body and the character’s body are not the same. Do not create the costume for the character, but for yourself.
Many of us are average sized — some taller, some shorter, some bigger and some stick thin. If you’re a girl, take into account your bust size. You want to accentuate yourself through the angles and cuts of the costume by altering the design. Keep the dimensions realistic and not to the character’s unrealistic body.
You need to be comfortable in the costume, too. Not in the sense of being constricted by the collar or squeezed at the waist, but in yourself and what you’ve created. Cosplay is, after all, about a roaring good time.
There is certain sense of accomplishment when you finish that first costume by yourself. The straight, precise stitches done by your mother’s hand are missing, but you can call all those bloodied stitches your own.
Over time, you begin to feel a sense of entitlement and pride – almost an elitist attitude towards cosplaying. You can tell who put effort into their costumes, who is just beginning and who has been around for a while. Remember that you started from scratch, too.
Some helpful tips that every beginner cosplayer should know:
- Don’t be afraid to pick up a “how to” book or surf the much beloved Internet for forums on what to do and how to do it.
- Learn the basic stitches, front and back. If stitching doesn’t work, fabric glue and fray check are your best friends when working with trim or layered fabrics.
- Don’t waste your money on expensive fabrics that you will end up damaging in your steps to learning. I’m not saying you will, but staying on the side of caution is always smart (and cheap).
- Old clothes in your closet can be used as templates for future creations. They are also great for cosplaying itself, depending on the cosplay. Old Halloween costumes are fun to fix up — after all: reuse, reduce and recycle.
- Along with using clothes as templates, fabric paint is very useful in stenciling the intricate details. Sometimes fabrics can only be cut in certain ways.
- The whole reason for using your imagination is prompted by the mangaka themselves. When they create their characters, they invent gravity-defying clothing and weaponry, hoping for the character to be recreated in life. Take a creative approach.
- Real life hair can be a pain. Wigs are capable of being styled and flared, dyed and cut in ways that your own hair cannot. Also, don’t be afraid to pay a bit more for a better quality wig. You’ll certainly look the part.
- When you learn more, don’t be afraid to add your own flares. And if a costume doesn’t have something, it’s okay to elaborate. If there are various versions of the anime, manga, game or various sequels, stick to the main incarnation of the character. Obviously, signature items are key, but feel free to cross costumes if you want.
- Most importantly, have fun! There will always be moments of stress. You will want to pull your hair out or scream or hit something. Take a break. Even if it’s down to the wire, with only an hour left on the clock, take a walk. Sometimes the best approach to completing your costume is to remain objective and keep a level head.
Alright, young cosplayers. Some final words.
Always remember why you started to cosplay in the beginning and never forget that the simplest costumes can be hard to pull off. Cosplaying is fun but it also helps in revealing your self-identity. It teaches you what you are comfortable doing and how much you are willing to do. It tests the amount of patience you have, your determination and ambition. It teaches you kindness and, most definitely, life-skills that can’t be picked up elsewhere.
It also helps refresh high school math (trust me, it’s important). Oh, and you find new friends every year that will accept you for being the uber geek. Score.
My cosplays to date: Naruto, Bleach, Fruits Basket, Shaman King, .hack franchise, Pokemon, Soul Calibur IV
Next up: Dragon Age: Inquisition
For BMod, I’m Cassandra Chin.
All Images: Cassandra Chin